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Travel tips: What not to do in Cuba!

Mon 08 May 2017

cuba travel tips

When traveling abroad you want to have as much information about your destination as possible, that’s why we’ll tell you what not to do in Cuba. Bed and Breakfast in Cuba brings these travel tips so you can have an idea of what to expect during your stay on the island. Read carefully and start to prepare your trip!

Casas in Vinales

What not to do in Cuba

Any country you visit has a list of do and don’t, but it is difficult to find out when you don’t know anyone to guide you in advance. How many of us had had to learn the hard way? I’m pretty sure, the answer is a lot!

But in BandbCuba we don’t want you to go through this, at least not this time. That’s why we have prepared these tips.

1. Don’t forget to bring cash

Before departing to Cuba make sure to withdraw enough money for your trip. This is very important, because a working ATM is hard to find on the island and you could run out of money very soon. Also, remember that credit cards from U.S. banks don’t work in Cuba yet.

To calculate how much money you will need to bring to Cuba, consider taking about 50 to 100 U.S. dollars per day. Also, include the extra money if you are going to rent a car there.

Another tip is to change the U.S. dollars for another currency like Euros or Canadian dollars before traveling. This will save you some money when you arrive to the Caribbean island, because there’s an extra charge when you try to change U.S. currency into CUC.

2. Don’t stay in tourist areas

The main purpose of your trip is to know Cuba beyond what makes it a tourist destination. When you are in Havana or in any other town, get close to the non touristic areas. Yes, visiting the fortresses, churches or the most popular bars will bring you closer to the lifestyle of the Cubans and will bring you some fun. But dare to go beyond that!

Try to take a different way every time you return to your accommodation. Cuba is a friendly country to walk around; this is the perfect way to know Cubans better. While you are walking you’ll get in touch with the special character that the Cubans have. You will hear the music that comes from the houses, and will see children playing baseball or soccer in the streets.

If you are open to make new friends in Cuba, there’s also a possibility that someone invites you home for chatting. Also, try to find options to eat. Don’t go every time to popular places, a good option to eat like a Cuban is at the markets. Ask local Cuban where to find them.

3. Don’t drink tap water

Health issues are a concern when traveling to developing countries. If you are used to drinking tap water at home, do not do the same while you are in Cuba. Instead, buy sealed water to hydrate yourself.

Nevertheless, hotels can have purified filtered water and that won’t be a problem. But ask them about it first. You don’t want to spend the trip in your room because of a stomachache

4. Don’t stay just in one town

There is a lot to see in Cuba and even the largest cities requires just a few days to know them well. Plan an itinerary including a few towns. It could be a temptation to spend a lot of time at the beaches in Varadero but, would you leave the island without visiting the tobacco farms in Viñales?

More travelers than you think fall into this mistake. At the end of the trip they just did the same thing they could do in any other destination.

5. Don’t forget to learn some Spanish

In Havana is possible to find people who speaks English (at least a bit) and could be easy to communicate with them. It’s not the same at the rest of the provinces. To be sure you are not going to have trouble trying to understand or being understood, learn some basic Spanish words and phrases.

Learn how to ask for directions if you are driving from town to town, bring an English/Spanish dictionary with you. Just take your precautions.

6. Don’t take pictures of police officers or soldiers

Don’t forget to learn some laws of the country you are visiting. This can prevent serious problems for you and your companion. For example, you can go to jail for doing drugs in Cuba, but there’s no problem if you want to have a drink in public places, such as the Malecón.

One thing you must avoid is to take pictures of police officers, soldiers, airport personnel or military installations.

7. Don’t spend all the money on the first stop

Remember what we said about ATM in Cuba? (Read again the first point if you don’t). Well, for the same reason you shouldn’t spend all the money at the beginning of your trip. Evaluate well where and how to spend money. If you are going to take a tour or do some activity, detail the options you have, so you don’t end up spending too much.

A clear example of this is if you want to take a ride on a classic car in Havana. It will cost around $35 for an hour trip around the city. But if you go some other town it would be cheaper to take a ride.

8. Don’t forget to tip

Tipping in CubaPeople in Cuba will do the best to help you and make you feel comfortable. This in their friendly nature, but also is because they’re looking for some extra money. The salaries are low, so they appreciate the tourist money.

Is usual to tip maids, waiters, tour guides and bus drivers. People on the streets can offer some help just get tip. When driving from a city to another and you ask a local for directions, probable they’ll also expect to receive a tip from you.

But don’t over tip or be so naive. 5 to 10 % of the bills is ok.

9. Don’t bring these objects to Cuba!

Again, be aware of the laws. We are not saying you’ll go to jail if you bring these objects to the island, but they can be seized and the authorities can ask you uncomfortable questions.

A little list of thing that you better let at home: walkie talkies, satellite phone, drones, photos or videos with adult material.

Books, magazines or articles that can be considered to be overly critical complete the list of what not to bring to Cuba. Take this into account when preparing your luggage.

10. Don’t forget to bring gifts

The prior point will save some space in your suitcase that you can fill with gifts for Cubans. They will appreciate if you dive them personal hygiene products like shampoo, soap, diapers, among others. Some people bring their own pillows and sheets and leave them as gifts in casas particulares.

Remember that Cubans don’t have easy access to these products. So they will be very thankful if you give any of them.

11. Don’t blow your noise in public

If you don’t want to be rude in front of Cubans, then don’t blow your noise in public. They considerer this is offensive, so do it in private if you need to. Also avoid the word “papaya” because it has a different meaning in Cuba that is not exactly the fruit… Instead say “fruta bomba”.

12. Don’t neglect your belongings

Even when Cuba is a very safe country you must take precautions. Violent crime is not common, but -as in any other country- there are thieves waiting for innocent tourists. Be aware of your personal belongings everywhere. Don’t show a lot of money in public, and don’t bring a lot of bling, because it can catch the attention of pickpockets.

Be sure to learn more about stay safe in Cuba before your trip.

13. Don’t miss the chance of traveling to Cuba!

That being said, we have come to the last tip! Go for your trip to Cuba! Traveling around the island is worth and is an experience you’ll never forget.

Go willing to enjoy every day of your trip and learn everything you can from Cuban culture. You will not regret it, just follow our advices while visiting Cuba.

If you still want to know more about the things you shouldn’t do in Cuba, watch this video. But remember, there’s always more things than you can do. These tips are just to assure you a better experience.

Did you like our travel tips? Now you know what not do in Cuba to enjoy your trip. Start planning and if you are looking for accommodation in the island, contact us.


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